Why Not Hannity in Cleveland? And…”Ballot Box Stuffing”?

One of the biggest “missing pieces” of syndicated conservative talk radio in the Cleveland market is ABC Radio’s Sean Hannity.

The FOX News Channel star’s radio program does quite well for Akron’s Clear Channel talk WHLO/640, and was recently added at Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting’s talk WEOL/930 Elyria. Yet, despite becoming the second most-popular syndicated radio talk show in America – after former WABC co-worker Rush Limbaugh – Hannity can’t get arrested in Cleveland radio itself.

One reason – Clear Channel, which carries Hannity in many other markets, has nowhere to put him in Cleveland. There’s no room for him on the company’s only AM station, WTAM/1100, with Mike Trivisonno established in afternoon drive, and sports play-by-play and talk filling the evening hours. In markets like Cincinnati, Clear Channel owns half the AM stations, and clears Hannity on conservative talk WKRC/550…which allows them to keep the original “Big One”, WLW/700, free of syndicated programming.

We bring this up here today because of news out of Boston. Numerous trade websites report that Salem talk WTTT/1150 in that market is picking up Hannity in his live (3-6 PM) slot starting on Monday, February 6th. We think this may be Hannity’s second Salem talk pickup, after Denver’s KNUS/710.

So the question gets asked again – why doesn’t Salem talk WHK/1420 clear Hannity in Cleveland? It’s already added two non-Salem talkers, both from Talk Radio Network – Laura Ingraham in middays, and Michael Savage at night.

As for Hannity, he could well be one of the reasons that WHLO/640 has shown up in bottom rung of the Cleveland book for the first time in years – Premiere’s Glenn Beck being the other. Other than a rights issue with Clear Channel and WHLO, we can’t see why Salem hasn’t picked up Hannity in Cleveland. Salem’s Boston cluster moved quickly to pick up Hannity…whose delayed run on Greater Media talk WTKK/96.9 got pushed into the middle of the night as their schedule got too crowded.

You might recall from a story early in our run…that WHLO blocked Canton’s talk/religious WCER/900 from picking up Michael Savage for a midday delayed broadcast. But Canton isn’t Cleveland, and TRN isn’t ABC Radio. It’s easy to imagine Clear Channel insisting on Canton market rights for its syndicated talk programming, but difficult to imagine them holding a claim in Cleveland…where for one, a clear WHLO signal does not reach half the market.

One sidebar to an earlier item – WHLO sister liberal talk WARF/1350 has removed a website poll about forthcoming midday host Joe Finan. Clear Channel Akron/Canton operations director Keith Kennedy noted on this very blog that it appeared that a number of “No” votes were coming from the same computer IP address. We haven’t heard if that address resolves to a Time Warner “Roadrunner” cable modem located somewhere between Kent and Ravenna…

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